Representatives from STEPS Rehabilitation and STEPS Prosthetics travelled to Singapore at the end of September to attend and present at the world’s leading rehabilitation conference – RehabWeek.
The week-long biennial event, which launched in 2011 and moves location around the globe, attracts thousands of delegates and speakers.
RehabWeek brings together engineers, clinical researchers, practicing clinicians and industry representatives to facilitate knowledge sharing across different disciplines to optimise the future development of technology in healthcare.
It’s an opportunity to showcase inspirational innovations in the field of neurorehabilitation and share the groundbreaking advancements in both clinical practice and technology that help transform the lives of individuals affected by lifechanging injury and illness.
History of RehabWeek The IEEE International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics (ICORR), the International Neurorehabilitation Symposium (INRS) and the International Conference on Virtual Rehabilitation (ICVR) joined forces in 2011 to launch the first Rehab Week.
It took place in Zurich, Switzerland and attracted over 650 attendees from all over the world. Since then, it has grown to become the largest flagship global rehabilitation conference of its kind, and the 2023 Rehab Week was the 7th such event.
The programme for the week contained keynote lectures, presentations, workshops, poster sessions and panel discussions from internationally renowned speakers.
The multidisciplinary approach to this conference was reflected in the programme with sessions delivered by physicians, therapists, rehabilitation engineers and neuroscientists.
This year’s conference addressed the challenges and opportunities faced in the changing landscape of neurorehabilitation.
Delegates were offered insights into the ongoing expansion of innovation and were presented with a comprehensive view of the challenges faced by healthcare providers and engineers in the post- pandemic era.
“One key issue that the organisers addressed was the lack of communication between those designing and building devices and those using them with patients” commented Jules Shiel-Boulger, one of STEPS Rehabilitation’s Founding Directors who attended the conference.
“The most successful innovations are those driven by the need of the patients and their clinicians. RehabWeek provides a fantastic platform for all those working in the area of rehabilitation to come together to exchange ideas, receive feedback, present and build new relationships.”
The STEPS Workshop
Fellow STEPS Rehabilitation Founding and Clinical Director, Toria Chan, along with Lucy Greensmith, Specialist Rehabilitation Occupational Therapist, and Kostas Falidas, Specialist Rehabilitation Physiotherapist delivered an engaging and interactive workshop, showcasing and demonstrating how advancing technologies compliment clinical practice in specialist residential facilities.
The team also provided a comprehensive explanation of STEPS’practical applications and protocol development.
During the workshop, delegates had the opportunity to experience some of the Fourier Intelligence, and MindMaze technology.
During the workshop, Colette Shaw, Founder and Prosthetist at STEPS Prosthetics demonstrated some of the latest commercially available upper limb prosthetic technology, including the pattern recognition control system from Coapt and a multi-grip powered hand from Taska Prosthetics.
During her week in Singapore, Colette also had the opportunity to attend prosthetic focussed workshops and presentations from some of the world’s leading engineers, scientists, and manufacturers.
“It was great to get a glimpse into the future direction of commercially available prosthetics including bidirectional control of bionic limbs, artificial intelligence and sensory feedback.”
Lucy Greensmith, Specialist Rehabilitation Occupational Therapist:“RehabWeek 2023 provided me with a unique opportunity to directly feedback to engineers about what I am looking for in technology to help my clients.
“The workshops were hugely practical, and I was able to work with new FES (Functional electrical stimulation) and trial technologies as well as. STEPS having the opportunity to share how we use technology and how adapt it to meet the needs of our clients.
“One of my favourite sessions attended was the fireside discussion which brought together key players from industry to discuss alongside academics, clinical practitioners and most importantly patients about bridging the gap.”
Kostas Falidas, Specialist Rehabilitation Physiotherapist: “The final day was spent visiting the local healthcare institutions in Singapore, including the newly built Rehabilitation Research Institute of Singapore; which was a great opportunity to see how technology is very much inbuilt to nursing care homes and the community hospitals, and how closely the research institute works alongside expert clinicians with technology development and evaluation.
“A holistic healthcare approach is also key in Singapore, with building design focussed on incorporating the outside inside.
“The community hospitals unique design ensures every patient has a window to enable views of the beautiful greenery surrounding the building, clean open spaces, and simple designs which all aid to the rehabilitation process, something I feel STEPS Rehabilitation is championing in the UK.”
Toria Chan, Clinical Director at STEPS Rehabilitation: “It was great to reconnect with colleagues I’d met at previous RehabWeeks to strengthen relationships and collaborations.
“We also made new connections which have led to discussions and opportunities to share our ideas and explore ways to engage in R & D projects across the globe.
“It was a privilege to present alongside Technology Assisted Upper Limb Rehabilitation Therapy: Challenges and Opportunities’ and provide the perspective from our experience on integrating technologies in residential and day rehabilitation, bringing the client and clinician’s perspective to the forefront of discussion.
“STEPS prioritise working with forward thinking companies, who listen to feedback and embrace the implementation of further development and refinement of their products.
“The last day was the clinic / lab visits which I was particularly looking forward to, having set up STEPS, it’s fascinating to have the opportunity to gain some insight into the healthcare set up and approach in other countries.
“It was interesting to see technology used within all three care settings we visited including elderly care, and the climate in Singapore, enables beautiful green roof top gardens, and more outdoor rehabilitation. At the community hospital (Ng Teng Fong General Hospital) they had a fantastic set up outside (Mobility Park) with a sensory garden, ramps, pedestrian crossings, a decommissioned taxi for transfer practice, and even an exact replica of a bus and metro carriage for patients to practice on and rebuild confidence prior to discharge. (I was worried our OT may want to relocate to Singapore!).
“Not many people own their own vehicle in Singapore, so the ability to access public transport and taxis is crucial to their independence.
“It was great to see how the Clinic for Advanced Rehabilitation Therapeutics (CART) and the RRIS integrated with each other and other health care settings to share knowledge and further advance their practice and use of technology.
“One innovative approach the government has backed, is to fit the same accessible gym equipment that is used at CART, in multiple local gyms, to enable continuity for patients in the community.”
RehabWeek 2025 Looking ahead, the STEPS team will attend the next RehabWeek, which will be held in Chicago in 2025, in collaboration with the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and Northwestern University.
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